Sunday, July 13, 2008


I drove across the country this week. It was a great five days. Gave me lots of time to think. Allowed me to catch some great Country stations I've never heard before as well as catch up with a few old friends (see Dixon).

The time to think after an impossibly busy 3 months was much needed and I'll have a lot to say about what seems to be going on in the business and the world in the days to come.

But three things in particular struck me as I drove:

1. We sure have a lot of trees.

2. Saskatchewan is really empty.

3. The country I saw outside the windows of my truck is not the one I see on my television every night.

This is a much more muscular and vibrant place than comes across on most of our programming. From the magnificence of the Rockies to the endless living sky of the Prairies to the walls of wood and stone that define Northern Ontario, there are vistas I've never or rarely seen as backdrops to our stories.

Our peoples and their dreams aren't there much either. There's an energy to this place that seems to get bled out in the development process along with so much of the positive energy and fun I experienced everywhere I went. And the fearful masses constrained by worries about all manner of societal woes, who get trotted out nightly on the news, didn't cross my path anywhere.

But more on all that in Posts to come.

Right now, I want to tell you about the best moment of the trip. I was rolling through Kicking Horse Pass close to sunset, with this golden light bouncing off the granite cliffs on either side. I'd been seeing wildlife all day. Dozens of deer, a Black bear and a fox. All venturing within a few feet of one of the busiest highways in the country. This place is also a lot wilder than we seem to readily admit.

I noticed a couple of cars on the shoulder ahead of me and, as I drew closer, spotted a small team of photographers taking pictures of something out in the river. I knew they could only have stopped for one thing and pulled over.

And i was right. In the middle of the river, about 300 yards away, a lone Grizzly bear was fishing. One of the photographers said it was a "she bear" and offered all kinds of detail I didn't really need.

One of the biggest bears in the world was right in front of me, splashing in the water, doing what bears do and have done for millions of years between the massive walls of rock that border her home. The sun glinted off her fur as it ducked behind the peaks and she caught something, ambling to the rocky shore to eat.

One of the photographers grumbled about losing the light and needing a different lens. I asked why he didn't just take pictures of the closer one.

Photographer: "Closer one? Where?"

Me: "Behind you by the car."

There was a panicked scramble before they realized I was pulling their legs. And then with the light dimming, we all just sat there for a while in silence as, across the river, that magnificent animal finished dinner, surveyed the falling darkness and slowly vanished into the brush.

We share this planet with so many awesome creatures who thrive and endure oblivious to all the issues that entangle us humans. Somehow seeing one always reminds me that my place in this world is neither as unique or as in need of being taken seriously as day-to-day life seems to imply.

Here's a taste of Grizzlies in a less quiet moment from Werner Herzog's terrific documentary "The Grizzly Man".

Enjoy your Sunday.

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